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Pornhub: Our New $25,000 Scholarship Is Legit

The site may traffic in videos of hot coeds, but it wants you to know it really cares about learning—it’s offering a scholarship, and applicants don’t even have to send in porn to win.

09.02.15 1:00 PM ET

When one Googles “Pornhub” and “college,” a cornucopia of expected illicitness appears at one’s fingertips:

“Three HOT & horny college girls invite some guys over for an orgy”

“Stunning sorority pledge attends her first orgy”

“College Fuck Fest—a Rough Treatment”

But Pornhub wants to prove that it supports the pursuit of higher education—even when it doesn’t involve sexy coeds banging their hot professors.

The adult film site is launching a $25,000 scholarship to help students across the globe pay for school as part of the debut of its new philanthropic campaign, Pornhub Cares.

Judging by the press release, the campaign seems, at best, like a run-of-the-mill attempt by a large commercial conglomerate to buy good PR through charity. At worst, it seems like a sleazy attempt to trick cash-strapped coeds into submitting porn for free.

Not that Pornhub is explicitly stating an XXX repertoire is needed to be the lucky winner of the first ever Pornhub Cares Scholarship. Far from it—porn-related stipulations are conspicuously absent.

Instead applicants must submit an essay of 1,000-1,500 words answering the question “How do you strive to make others happy?” Such a query can be answered in a variety of wholesome ways—volunteering at a soup kitchen, reading to the blind, knitting sweaters for penguin victims of oil spills.

But it’s difficult to shake a sneaking suspicion that Pornhub is looking for essays that begin with a detailed account of how the cable guy arrived just as you happened to step out of the shower, or that time the cheer squad slumber party took a sexy turn.

There is also the video submission requirement, which has virtually no specifications, except that it should serve to “further illustrat[e] the entrant’s response” to the essay question. The other stated requirement is that it be two to five minutes long, but the part about applicants needing to be at least 18 years of age suddenly makes complete sense.

Corey Price, the vice president of Pornhub, told The Daily Beast to get its mind out of the gutter.

Asked if adult content were an unstated prerequisite for the scholarship, he adamantly rejected the insinuation.

“It’s definitely not a requirement,” Price said. “The criteria isn’t to submit the best porn video and get a scholarship. I would be surprised if we had any pornographic entries.”

Still, Price’s denial that the site has ulterior motives in giving the scholarship is hard to take at face value. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and one would assume Pornhub wants its pound of flesh—ideally from the breast or genital region and glistening in money shot semen.

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The site does list at least some standard requirements that indicate the scholarship program is legit. Students must submit a résumé and official transcript, and be enrolled full-time at an “accredited secondary institution.”

Asked what accreditation was necessary, Price said the details hadn’t been worked out quite yet. “We haven’t figured out exactly what’s accredited, but it has to be a recognized accreditations.”

Plus, Pornhub already has a history of running contests to collect the best homemade porn submissions, so it hardly needs the scholarship program as cover.

“We have lots of opportunities for people to submit videos,” Price says when asked why an adult film site is establishing a scholarship that has nothing to do with porn. “We have a contest for newcomer of the month who gets $500 or the amateur of the month who gets $1,000.”

The scholarship has a different purpose, said Price. “We wanted to reward people for their merit.”

By “merit” one assumes Price meant that sex work is not a qualification or even an asset for scholarship applicants.

Paradoxically, many people actually turn to sex work to pay for their education.

The most famous may be Miriam Weeks, aka Belle Knox, who turned to porn to pay for her tuition at Duke University. She earned national fame and has built a brand around being the Duke porn girl, but many other students practice sex work with much less fanfare to cover the high cost of secondary education.

Before it was shut down by the feds, Rentboy.com established its own contest for male escorts to earn $1,500 to pay for their higher education, whether it was a four-year university or a vocational school.

“Like many of you, sex work was a way to pay for school. Knowledge is power, the power to better articulate the world around us and the power to change it,” adult film actor, writer, and designated Rentboy judge Colby Keller said in a video announcing the scholarship contest.

As inspiring and relatable as Keller’s words are, that $1,500 wouldn’t even cover a month at a public, in-state college, let alone a private university.

According to the College Board, a realistic cost for a year at a public university, including room and board and learning materials, is $23,410, and $46,272 for a private one.

Pornhub is planning to shell out a lot more than Rentboy was offering. That $25,000 will certainly help students, but it’s still a drop in the bucket when it comes to paying for education.

While Price was eager to stress that Pornhub’s scholarship wasn’t about porn, perhaps that shouldn’t be his chief concern. Instead of trying to distance itself from its adult film reputation, Pornhub should be trying to explain why a massive commercial enterprise is offering relative chump change.

Applications for the Pornhub scholarship are due October 31. Time will tell if Pornhub’s heart—and genitals—are in the right place.